Subversions of International Order

Studies in the Political Anthropology of Culture

By John Borneman

Subjects: Cultural Anthropology
Series: SUNY series in National Identities
Paperback : 9780791435847, 350 pages, November 1997
Hardcover : 9780791435830, 350 pages, December 1997

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Table of contents


1. Subversions of International Order: An Introduction

Part I. Making Culture and International Order

2. American Anthropology as Foreign Policy

3. Race, Ethnicity, Species, Breed: Totemism and Horse Breed Classification in America

Part II. National Identities in a Disintegrating Political Order

4. Time-Space Compression and the Continental Divide in German Subjectivity

5. Narrative, Genealogy, and Historical Consciousness: Selfhood in a Disintegrating State

6. Grenzregime (Border Regime): The Wall and Its Aftermath

Part III. Resistance and Opposition to Authority

7. Trouble in the Kitchen: Totalitarianism, Love, and Resistance to Authority

8. Education after the Cold War: Remembrance, Repetition, and Right-Wing Violence

Part IV. Territorial Sovereignty and Its Violation

9. Emigrees as Bullets/ Immigration as Penetration: Perceptions of the Marielitos

10. Toward a Theory of Ethnic Cleansing: Territorial Sovereignty, Heterosexuality, and Europe


Uses ethnographic tools to analyze political disorder and its representation at the end of the Cold War.


In this series of essays, the author shifts the focus of anthropology from a study of discrete cultures to one of alternative and sub-versions of large-scale global orders. Borneman employs new descriptive tools to analyze political disorder and its representation, issues which have become central with the end of the Cold War. Despite living in an era when group legitimacy depends on the ability to approximate national form, we have instead been witnessing the dissolution of coherent identities and nations. Ethnographically, Borneman focuses on these transformations in Germany during the disintegration and collapse of the socialist project, concentrating on relations between the first and the second Worlds.

John Borneman is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Cornell University. He is author of After the Wall: East Meets West in the New Berlin; Belonging in the Two Berlins: Kin, State, Nation; Unsettling Accounts: Violence, Justice, and Accountability in Postsocialist Europe; and coauthor, with Jeffrey M. Peck, of Sojourners: The Return of German-Jews and the Question of Identity.


"This book takes up burning problems in new ways by someone deeply versed in his field with a sensitivity to nuance and detail no less than to an acute sense of urgency. The reality to which most of the essays are dedicated is one never or rarely discussed by anthropologists, namely East Germany and neighboring states, and he does this with an eye open to recent anthropology and political theory. The approach he adopts has his own signature and is a major reason for the strength of this book, responding to new anxieties concerning social order, ethnicity, violence, and the study of society, stressing a new integration of anthropological study with urban and global force. " -- Michael Taussig, Columbia University

"In my opinion, no one working in the anthropology of Europe has the sort of edgy insight of Borneman which draws you into the ethnography. This is not only because of the quandaries of the German situation, but also the distinctive curiosity of Borneman himself. " -- George E. Marcus, Rice University

"Subversions of International Order is an important and enjoyable work … It is methodologically and theoretically provoking. " — H-Net Reviews (H-SAE)